malevolent

adjective
ma·​lev·​o·​lent | \ mə-ˈle-və-lənt How to pronounce malevolent (audio) \

Definition of malevolent

1 : having, showing, or arising from intense often vicious ill will, spite, or hatred
2 : productive of harm or evil

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Other Words from malevolent

malevolently adverb

On the Origin of Malevolent

That malevolent begins with male- does not imply any connection with gender. The word's initial component comes ultimately from the Latin adverb male "badly"; English male "a man or a boy," by contrast, descends from the unrelated Latin noun masculus "male." Malevolent was taken into English directly from the Latin malevolens "ill-disposed, spiteful," which paired male with volens, the present participle of a verb meaning "to wish." In Latin, the combination literally meant "wishing ill." The "wishing" component of malevolent may also be found in its antonym benevolent "kind and generous" (from Latin benevolens, literally, "wishing well") and in a rare English word, somnivolency ("a sleep-inducing agent"), in which it is yoked with somni- "sleep" (from Latin somnus) in a compound literally meaning "inclination to sleep."

Examples of malevolent in a Sentence

There was no acknowledgment of the effects of cycle upon cycle of malevolent defeat, of the injury of seeing one generation rise above the cusp of poverty only to be indignantly crushed, of the impact of repeating tsunamis of violence … — Douglas A. Blackmon, Slavery By Another Name, 2008 The sky looks heavy enough to sink and crush us when we see another twister bullying across the fields—a squat, malevolent-looking wedge. — Priit J. Vesilind, National Geographic, April 2004 No bigger than most house cats, it is possessed of such formidable armor and malevolent mien that when the makers of the latest Godzilla epic went looking for a prototype, they selected this lizard … — Peter Benchley, National Geographic, April 1999 The predominant spirit is very un-American; a kind of malevolent, drifting determinism pervades human beings who cannot, or do not want to, cope. — John Fowles, Atlantic, August 1986 the novel grossly oversimplified the conflict as a struggle between relentlessly malevolent villains on one side and faultless saints on the other
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Recent Examples on the Web

Godzilla, King of the Monsters, arises to combat massive, malevolent foes that have been feeding on a nuclear plant’s reactors and now threaten mankind with total annihilation. Los Angeles Times, "Movies on TV this week Sept. 15, 2019: ‘Alien,’ ‘Aliens’ and more," 13 Sep. 2019 The malevolent Skeksis include Awkwafina, Keegan-Michael Key, Mark Hamill and Andy Samberg. Time, "What to Know About The Dark Crystal Before Watching the Netflix Prequel," 29 Aug. 2019 Many people also would describe him as a malevolent presence. oregonlive, "Larry Hurwitz, the ‘Starry Night Murder,’ and a life of crime: Reporter Jim Redden on his years tracking a killer," 17 Sep. 2019 That their creations became widespread isn’t a sign of malevolent word-stealing but of the interconnectedness of American society and the aggiornamento of American English. Alec Dent, National Review, "The Natural Evolution of Language Is Not ‘Cultural Appropriation’," 3 Sep. 2019 Partners of menopausal women insist that their wives are not simply going through a hard time but have actually been taken over by a malevolent presence. Longreads, "Demonology: A Woman’s Right to Fury," 10 June 2019 Those kind of afternoon lunches have all but disappeared, sucked into some malevolent black hole created by corporate downsizing, email culture and the endless stupefaction of the Internet. Tim Carman, Washington Post, "The real reason you should stop eating lunch at your desk," 21 Aug. 2019 All the same, Reagan’s views of a malevolent Kremlin were well-founded. The Economist, "Reagan and Gorbachev’s tantalising nuclear talks in Reykjavik," 15 Aug. 2019 This platform was used by malevolent players, in the way it was designed to be used essentially. Eric Johnson, Recode, "The tech industry needs to reckon with the dark side of advertising, WordPress CEO Matt Mullenweg says," 2 Aug. 2018

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'malevolent.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

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First Known Use of malevolent

1509, in the meaning defined at sense 1

History and Etymology for malevolent

Latin malevolent-, malevolens, from male badly + volent-, volens, present participle of velle to wish — more at mal-, will

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Statistics for malevolent

Last Updated

8 Oct 2019

Look-up Popularity

Time Traveler for malevolent

The first known use of malevolent was in 1509

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More Definitions for malevolent

malevolent

adjective

English Language Learners Definition of malevolent

formal : having or showing a desire to cause harm to another person

malevolent

adjective
ma·​lev·​o·​lent | \ mə-ˈle-və-lənt How to pronounce malevolent (audio) \

Kids Definition of malevolent

: having or showing a desire to cause harm to another person Christy and Megan … were whispering over on the other side of the room and casting malevolent looks in Mary Lou's direction.— Sharon Creech, Walk Two Moons

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Comments on malevolent

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